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House of Commons Hansard #125 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was farmers.

Topics

A message from Her Excellency the Governor General transmitting supplementary estimates (A) of the sums required for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2004, was presented by the hon. President of Treasury Board and read by the Speaker to the House.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

September 23rd, 2003 / 10 a.m.

Liberal

Jacques Saada Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 45th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding membership of the committees, pursuant to Standing Orders 104 and 114.

Canada Marriage ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-450, an act to amend the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act in order to protect the legal definition of “marriage” by invoking section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce this bill, which would protect the legal definition of marriage as a union of a man and a woman by invoking the constitutional notwithstanding clause.

I would like to thank the hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River for seconding the bill and note for the record that I offered the Canadian Alliance the opportunity to second the bill and it declined based on an order from its leader. Not only did he once again act as a dictator, he is a duplicitous hypocrite.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canada Marriage ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member knows that in making a statement on the introduction of a bill he is to constrain himself and give a brief explanation of the purpose of the bill. Going beyond that I feel is unnecessary; I am sure the hon. member would not want to overstep the bounds of propriety in the House.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith Canadian Alliance South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in the House to present a petition from members of my constituency, 125 of them, who call upon Parliament to pass legislation to recognize the institution of marriage in federal law as being the lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today and present a petition on behalf of constituents in Prince George--Peace River, notably from the rural areas of Cecil Lake and Buick and the communities of Mackenzie and Chetwynd and the city of Prince George.

These constituents would like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that the creation and use of child pornography is condemned by a clear majority of Canadians. They believe that the Liberal bill, Bill C-20, does not adequately protect our nation's children. They believe that the Liberal government has not prevented artistic merit from being used as a defence for the production and possession of child pornography. Therefore they call upon Parliament to protect our children by taking all necessary steps to ensure that all materials that promote or glorify child pornography are outlawed.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise this morning to present three petitions on behalf of the people of Dauphin—Swan River.

The first petition deals with the issue of unlimited net fishing by aboriginals from Lake of the Prairies in Manitoba. The petitioners call on Parliament to enforce the laws of Canada so that those who are taking advantage of their status and who breach federal laws are held accountable for their actions and they say that Canada needs a single justice system for all its citizens.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition states that the national parks are a Canadian institution. The petitioners request Parliament to reduce national park fees and camping fees.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, the last petition talks about the elk herd in Riding Mountain National Park, which is infected with bovine TB. The disease is being spread to surrounding cattle herds and zoning has been imposed in Manitoba. The petitioners call upon Parliament to request that Parks Canada take immediate action to save the elk herd and protect the surrounding livestock and wildlife by eliminating the disease within the elk herd.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Progressive Conservative Perth—Middlesex, ON

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the Prime Minister should convene and lead a multi-party delegation including representatives of the industry to Washington at the earliest possible date to discuss with officials of the Congress and the Government of the United States all possible means to fully reopen the U.S. border to shipments of Canadian livestock.

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time this morning with my colleague from Dauphin—Swan River.

I think it is very unfortunate that I feel compelled to rise today to speak on this motion, a motion that surrounds a situation of tremendous importance to Canadians. I should not have to and the fact that I do is very unfortunate indeed.

Currently Canada is suffering from a major crisis in our agriculture community. Farmers, some of them fourth and fifth generation, some of them in my riding of Perth—Middlesex, many of whom I consider friends, are facing financial ruin, too many of them. At kitchen tables and at county fairs, these hard-working and proud people are telling me that they may not be able to get past this issue.

We have a disaster on our hands in Canadian agriculture. As if disasters are not bad enough, we also have a government that is not willing to take the appropriate steps necessary to help address this issue.

But the Liberal government does not take that action because the country is also suffering another crisis: a profound crisis in leadership. Instead of proactively addressing the challenges facing Canadian farmers, the Liberals choose to concern themselves with waging internal party battles, settling old scores and placing their interests within the Liberal Party of Canada ahead of the best interests of the nation.

The Prime Minister chooses to focus on legacy issues like same sex marriage and Liberal leadership, and stories regarding the shadow prime minister headline the front page of the major dailies across the countries. The media all too often, it seems to me, get caught up spending most of their time on these issues. Unite the right is another example, Mr. Speaker, and please forgive me for this as I am not a journalist, but it seems to me the issue of this crisis in Canadian agriculture has virtually been ignored as the Prime Minister and the media focus on other issues, issues that it seems to me are of far less importance than the decimation of a domestic industry, and more than an industry, a way of life that the country was built upon. This issue promises to ruin lives, tear apart homes and throw small communities in rural Canada into economic chaos.

Instead of opening a dialogue with our friends and neighbours in the United States, the Prime Minister has elected to mock them with disdain and scorn. Just yesterday the Prime Minister went to New York to the UN and took cheap shots and lobbed thinly veiled attacks at our American friends. Such actions do not go unnoticed by the powers that be in Washington, D.C.

While the Liberals play these games, it seems the same cannot be said of my colleagues in the caucus of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Our leader, the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, has been out in front on this very important issue like a true leader, championing this cause.

I want to thank my friend, the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, for pointing out in the House on numerous occasions how the Liberal government has chosen to ignore this crisis and, in doing so, how our Prime Minister and his cabinet have elected to take the path of least resistance and abandon Canadian farmers, abandoning the very people who entrusted them with the authority to govern their lives.

I also want to acknowledge several of my hard-working colleagues in the Alliance, NDP and Bloc, who have tried to shame the government into action. There are also several Liberal members who have shown courage in trying to convince their masters in cabinet to do the right thing and help Canadian farmers.

Sadly, because of the pattern of Liberal government inaction on this issue, those fourth and fifth generation farms I mentioned earlier are unlikely to produce fifth and sixth generation farms.

It has taken 100 years or more to build a proud, vibrant, Canadian agricultural industry and it is likely the history books will one day report that it took the Liberal government about a decade to completely destroy all the hard work; all that Canadian innovation, determination and perseverance under some of the harshest conditions faced by any people anywhere in the world. This looks to be the legacy of our two current Prime Ministers, who may be trying to distance themselves from each other now but who have walked hand in hand down the aisle of Canadian economic disaster orchestrating their ill-advised policy decisions as the Bobbsey Twins of grit governments.

It is sad, terribly sad.

All we hear about lately is our Prime Minister. I apologize to my colleagues and to you, Mr. Speaker. I need to clarify that remark. I am now talking specifically about the Prime Minister who is currently living at 24 Sussex. All we hear about is his concern over his legacy. If things continue down the same path his legacy will be the elimination of the family farm in Canada and, considering our state of relations with the United States, perhaps an end to Canada's positive balance of trade with the Americans.

What of the concern for the humble farmer in rural Canada who wishes only the legacy of one day turning his family farm over to his son or daughter?

As a small business person I can tell members firsthand how important it is to have good relations with one's best customers. I can say with total certainty how important it is to do business with people who have money. The Americans are great customers and they are wonderful friends. They also have wants and needs for which they can pay. They not only pay their bills on time but they have a history of bargaining in good faith with Canadians; good faith that sadly the Liberal government has not shown toward our American friends during debates over recent foreign policy issues.

Those are issues that have witnessed Canada abandoning our traditional allies, allies like the U.K., Australia and, yes, the United States, and seeing Canada aligning ourselves with nations like Russia, France and China.

At least the current Liberal regime shows some consistency. It has taken a prosperous cattle industry, which has taken 100 years to develop, and promptly set to work destroying it within the timeframe of about a decade. It then takes over 100 years of noble Canadian diplomatic tradition and completely rearranges our strategic international alliances.

Alas, an examination of the last decade shows that the current Liberal government has not been treating the Americans like good customers and best friends.

One would think that with two Prime Ministers currently, one of them could find time between fundraisers for the Liberal Party of Canada to lead a delegation of top level political, diplomatic and industrial officials to Washington, D.C. to sit around a table with Americans and talk through some of these issues. Is that unreasonable? Roughly 85% of our exports wind up in the United States, paid for by valuable American greenbacks. What could possibly be of more importance than insuring the maintenance of a strong relationship with the Americans?

After spending time working on this abroad I can tell the House that our counterparts in the U.S. congress echoed many of the concerns I have raised here in the House today. When I asked one congressman about opening the U.S. border to Canadian beef he said “If we make an error, is it not safer for us to err on the side of caution?”

I appeal to the sense of fairness and decency I truly believe exists within the hon. members of the House. I appeal to my colleagues to do the right thing and to take action at the highest diplomatic levels, to travel to Washington, D.C. to engage our most important trading partner, most reliable ally and, frankly speaking, our best friend so we may sort this out and save the livelihood of Canadian farmers.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I see other people want to ask my colleague from the Progressive Conservatives a question or make a comment on this important subject so I will try to keep my remarks brief.

I actually wrote down one of the things he said. I listened closely to his remarks and agree with the general thrust of his speech. He said that it was important to have good relations with one's best customers. That reminded of the comments made to me by one of my constituents this summer as I travelled around my huge northern British Columbia riding.

I was up at Fort Nelson, heading toward the Yukon, when I stopped in to visit a friend, Mr. Cliff Andrews, a guide and outfitter, who operates a small lodge at Tetsa River, north of Fort Nelson, with his wife Lori. Cliff said to me “Jay, I've got this pretty much figured out I think. Obviously when this started there was a mad cow. That was one incident that created the concern on the part of the Americans but that is not the reason this is continuing”.

He went on to say “Let me put it this way. Let's say you are a chicken farmer and your best customer lives across the road. Every morning you get out of bed, you go across the road and you kick him between the pockets. Then after a week or so you wonder why he does not buy your eggs any more”.

Mr. Andrews made a good point with his analogy. If the real people in the real world have it figured out, why have the Liberals not?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Progressive Conservative Perth—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, being a small businessman I do understand what it takes to make a good relationship and carry on business. I have been involved in small business for over 40 years. Some of the remarks that were made to our friends and largest trading partner, the United States, have been less than likable. I know what I would have done had I been there. I would have shut the door too.

I do believe that as far as BSE is concerned we have had one mad cow. We do know that. However when the congressman told me that we should err on the side of caution, I think it was a very weak answer.

Most of us in this room fly every day. Far more people will die this year from airplane crashes than from catching mad cow disease from any meat that they have eaten, but do we fly? Yes, sir.

They are using this particular instance as a play. I think it is all political. They have been kicked and kicked and they are just showing us right now that they are not going to get kicked any more.

I appreciated being part of the parliamentary delegation at the WTO. I have touched some of those people. I know how hard it is to touch some of those people. That is why I am requesting help from someone even higher than the parliamentarians in here, and there is only one higher than them, the Prime Minister.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the debate, although it is not really a pleasure because the problem is so large that no doubt disaster is just around the corner.

I also believe that most urban Canadians do not really understand what is happening. I know rural members of Parliament were busy throughout the summer trying to resolve the issue. The reality of the day is that even though the press headlines are saying that the borders are open, the fact is that the borders are not really open. There may be a crack in the door but, as we have heard, only a few truckloads of muscle cuts have been shipped to the south.

When we think what one mad cow has done to an industry, basically it has brought it to standstill.

I just want to let urban Canadians know the issue. Prior to May 20, 90,000 cattle were butchered per week in the country and after May 20 the number fell to 30,000. We have been told by packers that every possible piece of freezer equipment from coast to coast is filled with meat.

The big picture is that urban Canadians need to understand the size and the impact the cattle industry has on our economy. The fact is that the cattle industry is worth over $30 billion. It is the third largest sector. It accounts for almost one-third of the agricultural sector. It affects tens of thousands of people. It affects rural people and urban people. I do not think urban people really understand how it affects them.

This disaster already has basically eliminated the transportation industry, the packers and even the fast food industry, everything to do with food.

I was here a little over a month ago to attend a Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food emergency meeting. Ironically, after that meeting we were led to understand that the borders would open, but that was over a month ago. We are no further ahead today than we were a month ago.

When we think of the timeline, from May, June, July, August and September, the farmers, basically, have no cash. I think that is the issue.

I asked at the committee how many of us could survive for four months without a pay cheque, especially when some people have millions of dollars invested in their businesses. At that meeting I learned that the cattle industry was certainly controlled by our American friends. As was mentioned earlier, why would we slander or treat with disrespect our best trading partner and our market?

The fact of the matter is that in terms of market, six out of ten cows we raise in the country are exported. Canadians cannot eat all the beef we produce. My understanding is that at best we would probably be overfed with beef if we ate that one extra beef. It is highly improbable that we could eat five out of ten cows we produce.

As we heard from the agriculture minister, it is not the science. He is very accurate when he says that it is not the science. In fact I applaud the agriculture minister for the efforts he has made. However If it is not science then obviously it is politics.

As I said yesterday in my statement, politics created the problem and the only way we will get out of this is through politics, and through leadership. If we do not have the leadership on the government side with the Prime Minister, there is no doubt that the problem will continue and the cattle industry in the country will be decimated.

That is why the motion makes sense, that the Prime Minister convene and lead a multi-party delegation including representatives of the industry to Washington at the earliest possible date to discuss with officials of Congress and the government of the United States all possible means to fully reopen the U.S. border to shipments of Canadian beef.

I come from Manitoba. The industry there is supposedly 10%, give or take $3 million, and worth $550 million in revenue annually. The unfortunate part of the Manitoba beef industry is that 90% of the beef raised has to be exported. What does that mean to the industry in Manitoba? Basically, it shuts it right down. Of my constituents, 80% are mixed farmers. They raise cattle, cereal grains and other cash crops as well. The problem is it is out of their control.

Governments have told farmers across Canada to diversify. They have done that. They have gone into cattle so when grain prices are low they have something else on which to depend. This is even a bigger problem than what I have witnessed since 1997, when I came to the House, even than drought and low grain prices. Today people in the cattle industry, which account for a majority of the farmers across the country, some say probably 90,000 farm families, are on the verge of going broke.

As members of Parliament, it is very difficult for all of us to deal with this. We get calls from farm families who are pleading for help. They are almost crying on the phone. They ask how they will feed their families or pay their hydro or telephone bills. Some have children who are ready to go to university. I spoke to Betty Green, the president of the Manitoba Cattle Producers Association. Her children are at university and she wonders how she will help them continue their education. Farmers who have been bull producers for three or four generations have told me that there is absolutely no market for bulls today. How do they pay their bills?

Today on the average farm there may be 100 to 200 head of cattle. Summer has come and gone. In some parts of my riding they did not even have a good summer because of drought conditions. They cannot even feed their cows. There is a problem even when they put them in community pastures owned by the federal government. I had to intervene to get the government to defer payments so farmers could get their cattle home. Even on that point the government wants to charge them interest and wants them to pay the bill for grazing their cattle by next March.

I am here to plead on behalf of the people of Dauphin—Swan River and certainly the farmers across the country. This problem is impacting not only the farmers of Dauphin—Swan River but also those farmers across the country. It is impacting not only the beef producers, the dairymen, the bison producers, the chicken producers but all farmers. Again I plead with the government to show some leadership and deal with the problem so we can get it fixed.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I want to take the opportunity in the question and comment period to ask the hon. member some questions.

I would like to know where he obtained the numbers of killing 90,000 cattle a week. We have not killed 90,000 head of cattle a week in Canada for a long time, if ever. Prior to May 20, we were killing about 73,000 to 74,000 cattle a week. Yes, it dropped down, but by the end of the beef recovery program at the end of August, which is working, we were killing 75,000 animals a week. Does he realize that?

He said that nothing had happened in the last month. By last Thursday there were permits to move eight million pounds of Canadian beef into the United States. Is that nothing? He says that nothing has been done for farmers. Is $560 million between the federal and provincial governments, $600 million that I announced in transition payments last week and $500 million that is available to farmers in business risk management nothing to Canadian farmers?

He says that this is not a health issue. Is he saying that the world should ignore the organization Office international des épizooties which is the world authorities of scientists on this? Is this not a health issue? I think that was made very clear with the unfortunate situation in the European area a few years ago. Is he saying that we should ignore all these facts and just talk politics on this? Does nothing of this have any meaning to the hon. member?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, the minister needs to respond to the guy on the ground, the cow-calf producer, the guy who cannot pay his bills, the guy who cannot ship his 700 pound yearlings and the guy who is on the verge of going broke.

I applaud the minister for all the work he has done because he has done it well. Everything certainly helps. This is an issue where everyone has to pull together. There is nothing to gain by member's criticizing each other in terms of what we have or have not done. The problem is politics, and that is the bottom line.

I was at the committee meeting a month ago and members asked about the transition fund of over $460 million. We wanted to know where the money was. The question came up when Ontario Liberal members were asked this summer why beef prices at the counter were so high considering there was so much beef and problems in shipping it. Beef producers were getting 30¢ per pound and cows were worth 10¢ a pound. That is a very relevant question.

Packers across the country were trying to track the money but no one could figure out where it went or how much money was spent. This is just like AIDA. The government threw $1.5 billion into AIDA and it took years to figure out where all the money went, and we still do not know where it went.

It is easy for the government to say that it will spend money, but that money should be put into the hands of the people who need it.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the fact that the member's party has brought this motion to the floor of the House today, which I fully support.

When we had the SARS crisis, the government responded immediately to deal with the problem, and rightfully so. When Ontario had the 72 hour power outage, which created great havoc, a committee was struck immediately to deal with that serious tragedy.

Could the member explain to me why the Liberal government, which showed so much concern at the right time for different events, has yet to strike a committee of Canadians, Americans, politicians and industry on either side of the border to deal with this devastating problem? Why has the government done nothing when in other instances, such as SARS and the power outage, it was quick to react?

A lot of ranchers in my riding, and myself included, would say that it has been five months and there still is nothing but a lot of blah, blah, blah. By the time they get their forms filled in and make application to the department of the agriculture minister in Ottawa, they will be broke. Why does the government hesitate to jump on problems in this area? It was quick on others--

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. I know the hon. member for Wild Rose will want to leave the last minute to his parliamentary colleague to respond. The hon. member for Dauphin--Swan River.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that we have to compare one province to another. It is not productive in this federation to pitch provinces against each other.

If the border were closed to the movement of auto parts between southern Ontario and the United States, how long would it take to re-open that border? I do not think it would take four months.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to participate in the discussion today.

I first want to thank everyone. The success we have had to date in getting the borders open for our Canadian beef and the success we have had in supporting the Canadian beef industry in so many ways has been truly a team Canada effort. The consumers have been there to support the industry. The provinces, industry people and members of Parliament have been there, and we certainly need to continue that type of approach. We have shown considerable success already.

While an all party delegation showing up on the door of Parliament Hill might sound like an approach that could be taken, I believe the one on one contacts I have had have been effective, for example with U.S. Secretary Ann Veneman and with the Mexican Secretary of Agriculture Javier Usabiaga. The calls I have made to other countries and the contacts, for example with the country of Japan alone, have been effective. We certainly have had more calls with the United States.

I looked at a list of contacts. The hon. members have said that diplomats, politicians and leaders of Canada. Some time ago I looked into what I will refer to as interventions, contacts and letters and there were over 76 with Japan alone.

Unfortunately we are dealing with a health issue, and that has been determined by the best scientists in the world in the OIE. Just to put that in perspective, the Office international des épizooties, the international body that corresponds with the World Health Organization, deals with, comments upon and gives guidelines as far as human health issues are concerned. This is a situation where science and the bad experience in Europe a number of years ago can show there may very well be a crossover between a situation in animal science to a situation in human health. That has to be everybody's primary concern.

There have been attempts by some leaders across the country to go to Washington. Some have been more successful and some of their comments have been more helpful than others. However I can assure members that the Prime Minister has spoken directly to President Bush on this issue. The President's comment on this was that he was keen to get the border open, and that is significant. From working with people in his administration, not only myself and officials from my office but officials from many other government offices, that also has been indicated.

Let us remind ourselves of where we are. Canada is the first BSE country in the world to get markets opened up to its product. Yes, it took 100 days, but it is the first time in history that has happened and it has happened because of the system we have in place, our industry, our primary producers, our processors and our food inspection system, and the fact that everybody recognized the importance of the integrated beef and cattle market in North America. There is the breeding aspect of this as well. There have been incredible numbers.

We also have to remember that it is not Canada's borders that are closed and we can make that decision to open them. Borders of other countries are closed. They have to make that decision to open. We have demonstrated with science and with all I said before and they have reacted by starting to open up their borders.

As I said in responding to the hon. member a few minutes ago, as of last Thursday we now have had certificates, and they are being issued every day. Over eight million pounds of product is going into the United States. It is going to start to move into Mexico as well. We will continue to work in that area.

The secretary in the United States has said publicly the other day that she was expediting the regulatory process to move toward opening the border to live cattle under 30 months going directly to slaughter. It is usually a process that takes 12 to 18 months in the United States. As I said to the press the other day, she has assured us that she is expediting that process. We have encouraged her to do so. I talked to her specifically about it, encouraging her to do so, so we can take another step in opening those borders.

Mexico is working as well. It is no secret that Mexico and Canada are working on a protocol so that we can hopefully start moving bred replacement dairy heifers, as well as beef, into Mexico. That is not completed yet. Everyone has to agree, including the United States, because of the American concern of live cattle moving into Mexico.

We are also making some headway not only with, as I said, the U.S. and Mexico, but we are making some headway with Russia. The protocol is being put in place with Russia and it is preparing to move animals, not only in the under 30 months of age, but also over 30 months of age.

Never before have we worked so hard with Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, the Philippines, Trinidad and Tobago. They have not opened up to any other country that has had BSE or was listed as a BSE country.

The federal and provincial governments will continue these intense efforts with all of these countries and more. I can tell members that we will not rest, the industry will not rest, and the provinces will not rest until we get full restoration of where we were prior to May 20.

We are moving to expedite all of these processes and the countries are cooperating with us because they recognize the quality of Canadian beef.

While a trip to Washington by a group of politicians may give the appearance of making some headway, our thorough and behind the scenes approach is working. We know that is a big part of diplomacy which is contrary to what some people think should happen. They feel that it should be done in the open, on the front pages of the newspaper, in front of the TV cameras. However, it is the actions that count. With the actions that have happened so far, we can honestly say that we have taken steps that no other country has.

While we continue to do that, we are also working with the OIE. Canada is leading in that regard. When I met Secretary Venamen in one of the face-to-face meetings back in June, I suggested that the NAFTA countries, Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, put together a letter asking the OIE to review the level of risk with something like BSE. I asked the OIE to review BSE, in particular when a system works similar to ours. We have this situation not because our system failed but because our system worked. We found the animal and we took it out of the food chain.

We are asking the OIE, and we are being supported by other countries, when it meets in Paris in September, to look at the science that has come forward since the major situation in the United Kingdom and Europe a few years ago. We are asking it to look at the changes in feed practices, the level of surveillance, and the removal of specified risk material, for example, that has taken place. We could then put into perspective where we are as far as risk in these types of situations.

This is not a situation where in the past there have been estimates of up to two million animals in the food chain. This is a very low risk. I am not saying it should be ignored, but Let us put it into perspective. Other countries are recognizing that this is important to them as well.

Our intent is to ask them to create international standards that reflect: science, surveillance, testing, feeding practices, et cetera. We will continue to promote what has been very successful to us and recognized by the international body. We have asked it to review what we had done and to give us recommendations on what we should do.

We have already completed some of those recommendations. With others, we have to work with the provinces in order to ensure that we have the capacity, the funding, and all that is involved in that approach. This is because some of the percentage of our beef in Canada is slaughtered in provincial slaughterhouses. The provinces must be able to do the further surveillance and testing on animals as well.

I have made reference to the fact that we have removed the specified risk materials in order to make a very safe system even safer. We are pursuing the level of surveillance that we need to achieve. We are working so that we will have a system that would be able to detect, as soon as all the resources are there--and we cannot commit to doing that until we have the resources--one animal in one million.

That is the goal we are working toward and we will take whatever steps are necessary as far as feeding and traceability measures, and increasing significantly the amount of surveillance in order to get that point.

It is actions like these that will open borders a whole lot quicker than taking a busload or a planeload of people to Washington. A number of people have already been there. That has been helpful, it is true. However, the work has been going on, diplomatically and scientifically, in the other areas coordinated by the trade minister and other ministers.

The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have been involved in taking every opportunity to make these points, and not only to the United States. Yes, it is our biggest customer, but it is not our only customer. That is why it is important that we do this with all of the 30-some countries.

I met with the minister from Korea and other ministers. I met with the minister from Japan again a week and a half ago when the hon. member was present, not at the meeting, but in Cancun. I want to thank him for attending the WTO and for the support he gave our Canadian team on WTO issues. I met with the minister from Japan there again and I met with the minister from China. As I said, I met with the secretary from Mexico as well as the secretary to the United States. I met with all of these ministers.

Another thing that helped was the announcement back in July by the Minister for International Trade and myself that all supplemental imports of non-NAFTA beef and veal will normally be refused. Certainly that creates a situation where any of our processors and further processors that were bringing in offshore beef above the WTO commitments through our tariff rate quotas will have more difficulties under normal circumstances.

To assist the producers, and I outlined this to the hon. member a minute ago, the government put up $560 million. Some people have said that the government did nothing. We made the announcement on May 20 when we confirmed the situation. I made the announcement with the minister in Alberta within two hours of having that confirmed.

Those individuals are saying that 312 million federal dollars and the support of the province that raised it to $520 million was insignificant. In the eyes of many Canadians, I do not think $520 million was insignificant. Is there financial stress in the industry? We recognize that, but that program kept the market open and kept it moving. It moved us up to 73,000 animals a week.

While we continue to work on opening the borders, we are looking ahead to begin pooling the money that is available. There is--

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. The hon. member for Huron--Bruce on a point of order.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Steckle Liberal Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for allowing me to raise this matter. Discussions have taken place among all parties and I believe that you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move that the 45th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs concerning the membership of committees tabled earlier today be deemed concurred in at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 25, 2003.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?